Busoni: Music for Two Pianos

Busoni: Music for Two Pianos

by John Humphreys
     
 

While there have historically been very few recordings of Ferruccio Busoni's massively conceived and monumentally executed "Fantasia Contrappuntistica for two pianos," the amazing thing is that nearly all of them have been worthy of the work. From Peter Serkin and Richard Goode's stunningly architectural performance on Columbia through Ursula Oppens and Paul Jacobs'… See more details below

Overview

While there have historically been very few recordings of Ferruccio Busoni's massively conceived and monumentally executed "Fantasia Contrappuntistica for two pianos," the amazing thing is that nearly all of them have been worthy of the work. From Peter Serkin and Richard Goode's stunningly architectural performance on Columbia through Ursula Oppens and Paul Jacobs' staggeringly virtuosic performance on Nonesuch to Andr�s Schiff, and, once again, Peter Serkin's breathtakingly musical performance on ECM, Busoni's masterpiece has been exceptionally fortunate. Even this exceedingly intellectual performance by Allan Schiller and John Humphreys only misses greatness by a whisker. Schiller and Humphreys clearly have the intelligence, the technique, and the sheer stamina to play the work: all the lines are clear, all the harmonies are clean, and all the contrapuntal devices are lucidly articulated. Nor do they lack the commitment: the listener never doubts that Schiller and Humphreys have considered every detail of the work and the most appropriate means for representing its immense complexities in their performance. Unfortunately, the listener is neither stunned, staggered, nor left breathless by their performance. As with their performances of Busoni's other works for two pianos on the program -- the "Improvisation on the Bach Chorale Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seele," the "Fantasie f�r eine Orgelwaltze," and the "Duettino Concertante nach Mozart" -- the listener respects and admires Schiller and Humphreys' playing, but is not swept away by the strength of the imagination nor by the power of their interpretations. While the distance between their wholly estimable performance and Serkin and Goode's or Oppens and Jacobs' or Schiff and Serkin's performances is no thicker than a whisker, it is nevertheless an insurmountable gap. Naxos' sound is too cool, too dry, and too distant.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/13/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313244324
catalogNumber:
8557443
Rank:
263247

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Fantasia contrappuntistica (IV), for organ (arrangement by Wilhelm Middelschulte), KiV 256d  - Ferruccio Busoni  - Allan Schiller  - John Humphreys
  2. Improvisation on the Bach Chorale "Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seele," for 2 pianos (after BWV 517), KiV 271  - Ferruccio Busoni  - Allan Schiller  - John Humphreys
  3. Fantasie für eine Orgelwalze, arrangement for 2 pianos in F minor (after Mozart, K. 608), KiV B91  - Ferruccio Busoni  - Allan Schiller  - John Humphreys
  4. Duettino Concertante, arrangement for 2 pianos (after Mozart, Finale from Piano Concerto No. 19, K.459), KiV B88  - Ferruccio Busoni  - Allan Schiller  - John Humphreys

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